HC Deb 06 March 1969 vol 779 cc647-8
7. Mr. Gibson-Watt

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what assistance was given by his Department in compiling the Green PaperThe Task Ahead.

Mr. George Thomas

The Green Paper The Task Ahead was prepared by the Department of Economic Affairs, and the Welsh Office, in common with other Departments, assisted in its preparation.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Will the right hon. Gentleman recognise that in 1967 we had a publication called The Way Ahead and now we have The Task Ahead? When he produces one next year, will he call it The Change Ahead?

Mr. Thomas

The hon. Member can do a lot better than that if he tries. The Task Ahead is the forecast for the United Kingdom. I know that he will have been pleased to note that in our Annual Report last week we were able to show that substantial gains are now coming forward for Wales.

Mr. Gwynfor Evans

Now that the Government have admitted in The Task Ahead that the reduction of regional disparities for which they hoped will be less evident in Wales, will the right hon. Gentleman admit also that the estimate in Wales, The Way Ahead of a shortfall of jobs in Wales was euphorically optimistic and that criticisms of the Government were right?

Mr. Thomas

I always feel distressed when I have to give good news to the hon. Member because I know it upsets him, but the forecast in Wales, The Way Ahead was based on the prospects in the spring of 1967. Since then steps have been taken to improve the rate of industrial movement into Wales. I should have expected the hon. Member to say how glad he is that the rate has improved so considerably.